Published on January 17th, 2014 | by Ballard Lesemann0
Squirm & Germ Bring Big Apple ‘Tude to Charleston Comedy Fest
For comedic rappers (or rappin’ comedians) Tim “Squirm” Girrbach and Rodney “Germ” Umble, clever rhymes, heavy rhythms, and silly themes, and wild wordplay of the best way to entertain a crowd. At least up the New York area.
The two often-bespectacled performers formed the musical comedy duo in 2011 after performing improv and sketch comedy at the Second City, Upright Citizens Brigade, and the Magnet Theater. Detouring into their own hip-hop infused funny stuff came naturally for them.
“We both knew that we wanted to do comedy, and we also loved music so much,” Girrbach says. “This became the perfect hybrid. We both felt like we were getting tired of sketch, and we realized that we had much more fun doing musical comedy. It gets the crowd going, and it gets us more excited and more motivated to experiment.”
Squirm & Germ make their Charleston debut this weekend during the Charleston Comedy Festival.
“This actually is our first time down in Charleston,” Girrbach says. “We used to tour in a full sketch comedy troupe a few years ago, traveling to festivals as far out as Seattle, Toronto, and D.C. Now, we’re based in New York, working the comedy club scene. We kept hearing from people how hospitable Charleston is to visitors. It was the Reformed Whores who actually suggested performing at the Charleston Comedy Festival to us. They’d said, ‘Oh, they’ll love you down there.’ They’ve always had a great time.”
Working at small venues and special events in New York City and around the Northeast, Girrbach and Umble developed their somewhat geeky hip-hop alter egos and released their 16-song debut album Late Bloomers (Fool’s Gold) in 2011.
Girrbach and Umble were forced to come up with the name Squirm & Germ while recording one their earliest tracks, “Neti Pot,” a hip-hop track about a Neti Pot manufacturer’s website. The studio producers put them on the spot.
“We entered an actual hip-hop studio, and they immediately asked us for our MC names,” Girrbach remembers. “In the back of my brain, I knew I wanted us to have something with a ‘squ-‘ in it. The first thing that came to me was ‘MC Squirm.’ Then Rodney came up with ‘MC Germ.’ It sounded kind of old-school, and we started rapping about silly it was. We stuck with it, and it’s been with us ever since.”
Over the last two years, Squirm & Germ diligently produced new demos and tracks, and they shot and released several ridiculously nerdy music videos along the way, including their latest single, “Pregnant in the Club,” the naughty follow-up to the modern dance-pop track “Maine, MoFo.”
“I don’t know if there was a specific plan when we started out,” Umble says. “Early on, it developed into a more energetic, slightly more angry version of what we started with. We’ve explored different aspects, and most of it ends up pretty positive, actually. There are still elements of old-school rap, and there’s a laid-back style.”
Girrbach and Umble agree that their creative process has always been based on a balanced sense of collaboration. They easily swap lyrical duties and arrangement ideas. And they tend to laugh at the same oddities and silliness.
“We know how to work well together, and there’s no drama or politics involved,” Girrbach says. “It’s just us making good music that’s fun for us and fun for others.”
Squirm & Germ plan to tour heavily in 2014, and they hope to return to Charleston along the way. They have a new EP tentatively titled Naked on a Horse in the works and ideas for several new music videos are already taking shape.
“We want to keep expanding our audience and touring the country,” Umble says. “I’m excited to record and perform, and I’m excited to try out new things. I still love to do songs that we’ve done a hundred times — it’s never a burden and always fun — but we look forward to even more new experiments.”
Squirm & Germ will share the stage with the Bartenders and the Shock T’s at the Threshold Repertory Theatre at 8 p.m. on Fri. Jan. 17 and at 9 p.m. on Sat, Jan. 18. Admission is $12.50. Visit charlestoncomedyfestival.com and squirmandgerm.com for more.
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